education resources

Singlemum.com.au has a look at Skwirk online, with SingleMum’s own Miss Six taking it for a test drive…

When I first sat down at the computer with my Kindergarten-student daughter to have an introductory look at Skwirk, I had allowed myself some time to help guide her until she felt she was able to navigate it herself – so much for that plan. I was immediately rendered redundant by her squealing “I want to do it myself Mummy, it’s easy!” whilst mugging the computer mouse – another “Skwirker” was born. Wandering off to make myself a consoling mummy-isn’t-entirely-useless-really coffee, I then strayed back to quietly observe just what it was that had her so hooked from the get-go…

Skwirk

Skwirk (pronounced “Schoolwork” said really, really fast, for those of us in the know) is basically, a parents educational-support dream…

An online program that actually follows your child’s Australian school curriculum to a “T”, right through primary and on to secondary school. It’s kind of like your child’s own private online tutor!

The Skwirk system is split into “Stages”, with Stage 1 being Foundation (Kinder) to year 2, Stage 2 covering Year 3 and 4, and so on. Your child’s login-in profile is based upon their educational Year, and the main menu of subjects that they are presented with upon log-in covers all of the main subjects on offer for their Year at school, according to the current Australian curriculum.

In our case with Kinder, the main menu offered the expected Reading and Maths, but also Human Society and It’s Environment and Science too – just as they do at school. Once your child clicks the subject that they like, they are offered a more detailed selection of different topics, which in turn offer options such as “Read Along” (a colourful article-type page with lots of bright cartoon illustrations), an “Animation” (a short cartoon clip) or a game.

Big, easy to read and click buttons make the usability of this program a real winner for the computer-beginner…

with logical, easy-to-follow step by step progression through the subjects, and an encouraging “everybody wins in the end” philosophy for the games and puzzles.

Certainly for the Kindy kids one of the major draw-cards would have to be Skwirk’s cute “Animations” – short tutorials cunningly disguised as cartoons, complete with wacky sounds that engage and entertain. The clever “carrot and stick” format has each Animation ending with the reward of a fun game to play – again with it’s own lesson built in – a double bonus!

Skwirk

For the later-Stage primary kids, there’s still the same winning format of Animations and other features, with additional Quizzes, Projects, Videos and even Exams. A points system provides further incentive to learn, and for the parents a separate log-on reveals a reporting facility that lets you see how your child is progressing along the way.

The Secondary School Stages offer, again, a syllabus-specific variety of subjects. All this within a media-rich learning environment that serves as an excellent resource and support for students as they move towards those most vital of educational years. Here, as in the other Stages, Sqwirk comes into it’s own as a great learning advantage.

All-in-all, Skwirk is a valuable learning tool, and a highly relevant supplement to Australian school curriculum.

Back at Kindy level, it’s easy to see that little kids regard this introduction to online learning as a lot of fun, and that can only be a good thing. It’s hard not to feel smug with your sheer parenting genius (said with tongue firmly in cheek!) as you watch your kids laughing and giggling their way through puzzles and games that can’t help but support them in their school work. Indeed, Skwirk is so valued in our household now, that Miss Six bargains for extra Skwirk time as a treat, and all I can say about that is – nice one, Mummy!

Get a 25% discount to Skwirk in September. Use the discount code ‘education’ when subscribing. Click here to get Skwirking!

The Skwirk program is used by teachers, students and parents Australia-wide. For further information on how you can access Skwirk for your child, you can visit www.Skwirk.com, or telephone Skwirk on (02) 9438 3637.

Newspapers are all around us yet few of us may think of it as a handy teaching or learning tool in the classroom. The newspaper has many features that can be capitalized upon as shown in the mind-map. Because of its many features, newspapers can be used by all subjects in many different and interesting ways.

READING Newspapers are great for reading and many schools locally and internationally have newspaper reading programmes. Students are encouraged to read the articles and improve not just on language but also knowledge of current affairs, making them more aware as citizens of an evolving world. To encourage a spirit of collaboration and shared learning, students can be given opportunities to share the insight and knowledge gained through reading the articles with the rest of their classmates. This is a strategy that many teachers use to start a lesson – often the first five to ten minutes of classroom time. Such shared learning goes a long way to ignite passion in reading and keep young minds connected to local and world affairs.

CLOSED IN Newspapers are a great way to widen an individual’s scope on the world beyond their own immediate locale. One way is to bring in articles from foreign newspapers (these are often readily available through online newspapers) and get students to compare the news – in particular, similar issues and how each country or region manages or responds to issues and events as they happen. This can be a useful teaching and learning point. Learning about such similarities and/or differences can offer important insight into political, cultural and social contexts around the world and can be a platform to provide multidisciplinary teaching.

CASES Newspapers are also great storehouses of real case studies. With real events, phenomenon and people covered, it is a great way to get students to apply and visualize theory in action. From Geography to Science to Economics, the newspapers present a number of case studies that can be picked up and continually added to.

MEDIA FRENZY Because newspapers are multimodal, they are also a great tool to study aspects of media, for example print advertising or even the text type of newspapers or how stories and elements are laid out to aid reading and draw readers’ attention. This is especially important in studies and understanding of popular, everyday discourses which can have a powerful influence on readers and their worldview. So, pull out the newspapers and start learning all the inside tricks of publishing and printing to influence!

There is no end to the possibilities presented in the newspaper as a useful teaching and learning tool. A simple document that is often sidelined, yet it holds within it a treasure trove of teaching-learning opportunities.

So get to the news-stand and get yourself a copy today!

Find out more about Skwirk, click here.

Being the Content Manager is a huge responsibility when working on a website like Skwirk. Teachers, schools, parents and students need to be able to rely on and trust our resources. We need to constantly think about new ways to supply content. A lot of this comes from feedback and the direction of the Australian Curriculum. Here’s an example of what an average day is like working as he Content Manager on Skwirk…

8:30am – Check overnight emails from the site’s feedback system. The back end of the site functions exactly like the Lesson Editor for teachers, which means I can make modifications to chapters and assessments within minutes of getting some feedback. Our favourite example of this is from the early days of the new site. A teacher emailed us asking if we could update a page of content about local government to show an Australian mayor. We were able to call her back 15 minutes later and show her the new page with a picture of Sydney’s Lord Mayor.

We also have a quick staff meeting every morning. Sometimes this is about what kinds of deals we’d like to offer parents and teachers; sometimes a member of the team has seen a news article that means I can update a chapter with interesting new information.

10:15am – Around recess we hit the phones to catch up with teachers across Australia who are current trialling the website. This is a really valuable process as we can get feedback from educators who are in their first weeks of learning about the site and how it can help them plan their lessons. We often use this time to give teachers a quick walkthrough of the site’s features in terms of building lessons and searching for content using Australian Curriculum codes. Our consultants have gotten lightning-fast at this – we’ve clocked one walkthrough at 12 minutes!

11:30am – Time to review content and media for whichever sections of the site we’re working on. Recently this has included updating Secondary Maths content, making additions to Primary English content, and adding Shakespeare to the English Texts section. I’m very proud of the way we can both commission new content for the site from great professional teachers from around Australia whilst making use of Public Domain and Creative Commons media from across the internet. I also take the time to review what other sites we love and respect are working on. There’s no right or wrong way to use Skwirk, which includes matching it with resources from places like the ABC Splash website.

1:00pm – Lunchtime! Being an information junkie I usually spend my lunchtimes walking the local neighbourhood listening to podcasts. I usually get back to the office with at least one new idea for a chapter or resource.

2:00pm – Back in the saddle to keep working on the site and take calls from teachers and parents. As Skwirk is used by parents and homeschoolers as well as teachers we always take the time to speak with parents who are interested in using the site to help their children get the best possible education. This is also the time of day when I’ll chat with team leaders about what kinds of questions and comments they’ve been getting from teachers as they trial and subscribe to the site. We have an excellent relationship with the schools who subscribe to us and many of the resources we develop are based on the discussions we have with our partner schools.

5:00pm – Done for the day!

It’s been a busy period for Skwirk. Highlights over the past few years have included helping the site take on a bold new form with amazing features, aligning our thousands of resources with the Australian Curriculum, and making great connections with educators from all over the country. Remember we are always looking for new ideas for content. Please contact us with any information you have on Skwirk. Contact the team, (02) 94383637 or email us, teachers@skwirk.com.au

Happy Skwirking!

  • Bill Cohen

With the 2015 school year kicking off in just a few days the Skwirk team wants all of our teachers and parents to know what we’ve got for them to start the year right! Here’s a few reminders of recent additions along with the freshest content:

*          Dream a little dream of Shakespeare – Are your students bored by the Bard? A reminder that Skwirk offers the full text, analysis and full-cast podcast performances of four of the most popular Shakespeare texts for Year 7-10 students: Romeo and JulietJulius CaesarMacbeth and our latest addition – A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

*          More in-depth Maths for Secondary students – our qualified and experienced Maths teachers are continuing to add more to 7-10 Maths. We’re offering more detailed explanations, animations with worked examples, and more than doubling the number of practise questions for every chapter, including both multiple choice and short answer options.

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*       Make mine interactive – here’s a HUGE announcement that we’ve been working on for some time. ALL of our Maths and Science units for Years 3,4, 5 and 6 now have interactive activities for accompany the quizzes, videos, worksheets and images. Want something to help your students understand basic Chemistry? There’s an activity for that! How about basic algebra? Yup, we’ve got that covered as well! Biology? Check! Geometry? Check! These are just a few examples of the huge variety of activities we have on offer to make learning engaging and fun. And using the bookmarking tool you can save ANY of these activites to your personal folder for later use.

Kid on tablet

*       Tablet Ready Content – Tablets have become a key classroom tool in the past few years. With the introduction of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) into many schools, making content available across multiple platforms is extremely important. Over the past few months Skwirk has been working on converting our content to make them mobile ready. In the next few months, most of our animations across the site will be available across all devices, with Skwirk being 90% mobile ready within a few months. Not only that, but all new activities and games will be developed to ensure they work across these devices as well. Check out our Boomerang Maths game as an example, click here.
Screen shot 2015-01-21 at 07.43.20

2015 is shaping up to be a HUGE year for Skwirk. We now have over 18,000 educational resources available all in one online location. And there will be even more coming your way. We are looking forward to it and are delighted to have so many schools, teachers, parents and students along for the ride with us. Strap yourself in – this is going to be amazing!

If you are interested in getting Skwirk into your school or home this year, contact the Skwirk Team via phone (02) 94383637 or email teachers@skwirk.com.au or find our more information at http://www.skwirk.com.au

Happy Skwirking,

With school off for 6 weeks, the Professor decided to take a holiday after a ground breaking year, by indulging in his passion for history by exploring from Kelly Country to the Grenfell Goldfields.

The Vietnam Veterans Commemorative Walk in Seymour. A must do for anyone with an interest in Australian Military History

The Vietnam Veterans Commemorative Walk in Seymour.
A must do for anyone with an interest in Australian Military History

After spending the day wandering around Seymour on the Heritage Walk, at the Australian Light Horse Memorial Park and the Vietnam Veteran’s Commemorative Walk, the first night found the Professor staying at the Harvest Home Boutique Hotel in Avenel. This rather nice hotel has beautiful gardens, Damian the landlord is an absolute champion and the pizza shop next door is arguably one of the best in Australia, they even slice the prosciutto fresh!

Any fan of Ned Kelly needs to visit Avenel, as it was here that Ned saved the life of Richard Shelton, went to school and his father passed away. The green silk sash that the 12 year old Ned was awarded by the Shelton family for his act of bravery in saving Richard’s life, was worn under his armour many years later at Glenrowan. Hughes Creek, in which Richard was drowning, is classed as a fugitive waterway (not a pun at what Ned became). A fugitive waterway constantly shifts course and the amount of flow through the seasons, which is why it looks so empty and small in our picture! The professor then continued the Kelly country exploration with a visit to Glenrowan. It was here that Ned was captured by the police after the siege and the other members of the Kelly Gang were killed.

profsummer2

The Harvest Home Boutique Hotel in Avenel. Exquisite gardens, beautiful rooms and next door to the best pizza!

Moving north and keeping on the bushranger theme, Professor Skwirk decided to relax at a farm stay near Caragabal, in the Central-West of NSW. The farm actually occupies what was part of Ben Hall’s station of Sandy Creek, of which the police inspector Sir Frederick Pottinger burnt down Ben’s house, and is quite close to the Wheogo range of hills where it is believed Frank Gardiner, Ben Hall and the gang divvied up the loot from the Escort Robbery at Eugowra.

Grenfell, just 40 kilometres from where this all happened, is probably best known for being the birthplace of Henry Lawson (as an aside, it is also where Stan McCabe, the Australian Cricket Legend, grew up). The Professor spent plenty of time checking out O’Brien’s Lookout, which still has some of the original mines and crushing equipment from what was once the richest Goldfields in the colony. He also visited the birthplace of Henry Lawson, spent time with the brand new statue of Henry in the main street and took a walk up to Ben Halls Cave and the historic Seaton’s farm.

The spot that Ned was captured at in  Glenrowan

The spot that Ned was captured at in Glenrowan

The Professor chats to Henry Lawson, in the main street of Grenfell.

The Professor chats to Henry Lawson, in the main street of Grenfell.

“You were born on Grenfell goldfield – and you can’t get over that.”

Said Grenfell to My Spirit, Henry Lawson, 1911

The summer holidays over, the professor is now back at work ready to help.

Checking out the plinth marking Henry Lawson birthplace. The sugar gum in the background was planted by Henry’s Daughter, Bertha.

Checking out the plinth marking Henry Lawson birthplace. The sugar gum in the background was planted by Henry’s Daughter, Bertha

The Glenrowan Inn burned down when police set it alight to get the Kelly Gang

The Glenrowan Inn burned down when police set it alight to get the Kelly Gang

Why We Love Skwirk at Charlestown East Public School

Skwirk was brought to our school after a presentation by a local school who showed us how the resources had not only transformed their teaching and learning program, but more importantly, how engaging and relevant the content is for all students.

As a result, Charlestown East purchased Skwirk and it is now used on a daily basis with our interactive Smartboards and computers (Kindergarten to Year 6) to explore, explain, and engage students, so they can understand key concepts in depth.

Drew Janetzki using Skwirk in the classroom

All of the major KLAs (Key Learning Areas) are covered including Literacy, Numeracy, Human Society and It’s Environment as well as Science and Technology. A unique feature of Skwirk is the Australian voices, as well as the depth of content of all of the above mentioned KLA’s. This was not the only appealing aspect to the program; it was also the excitement students experience from Skwirk.

Students love Skwirk; whether it is playing a game, reading along or playing an animation. Skwirk has cleverly created an educational product that is relevant and meets syllabus outcomes. It is also highly engaging and appealing to all of our students.

Within the English section, students are exposed to highly engaging videos that relate to every strand of the curriculum. Spelling, text types, writing, grammar, reading, handwriting, computer skills, talking and listening, as well as language, are all covered under Skwirk.

The Numeracy section features highly engaging videos that relate to the curriculum. Measurement, Space and Geometry as well as Numbers are all covered.

The choice of animation, the ability to choose an activity, and the option to read along is very appealing to all forms of learners.

Within HSIE, our students in Stage 1 are currently investigating Workers in the Community and in Stage 2, they are exploring Machines. Our Stage 3 students are exploring Global Connections.

All of these concepts have become more engaging thanks to Skwirk.

The unique aspect of Skwirk to our teaching staff, is that all of the units are aligned to syllabus outcomes. This re-assuring aspect ensures that there is no guess work or re-programming for any staff member. It is almost fool proof for any teacher, including those with limited ICT knowledge. From our experience as teachers, there are only one or two clicks and you have the exact content your students require to start their lesson or enhance their learning.

With the introduction of portable tablet computing, Skwirk is being used at the touch of a finger and allows all of our students to follow up on concepts being taught.

With Skwirk being in the palm of our students hands, it has changed the way they learn, engage and interact with technology. Our school librarian has been over the moon because of Skwirk’s vast eBook range, which features over 2, 000 animations that cover all stages.

Luke Dunford, one of our Year 6 leaders and Minister for Technology thinks Skwirk is

“a great classroom asset and is one of the most educational websites that helps me learn.”

Our teacher/ librarian, Mrs. Donna Reinhard, uses Skwirk to target specific Stage 1 outcomes in the strand of Measurement. Mrs Reinhard believes that , “Skwirk is a very enriching and engaging program for all of our students”, and regularly uses Skwirk in library lessons.

Thankyou Skwirk for bringing back the fun to learning for our students at Charlestown East Public School.

Drew Janetzki
Assistant Principal – Charlestown East Public School

Find our more about Skwirk, click this link to get a free trial. 

Check out our teacher tour below:

For the first time, Aussie Product Review will be reviewing a service, but I would describe Skwirk more as a community. Skwirk, pronounced school work quickly, is an interactive learning website. One of the great things about Skwirk is that all the content is Australian and the content has been written specifically for the syllabus in each state therefore making it a wonderful aid to help children all around Australia.

We have reviewed the Skwirk system through three year levels Years 2 and 4 and high school Year 10. Here is what our reviewers thought of Skwirk;

My little one is in Year 2 at school and things have to be interesting to keep this age focused for any period of time. I can say with the bright pictures, colourful animations and games, Skwirk kept her involved for her whole computer time quota. I think children, particularly at this age, learn more and/or quicker visually so to have the animations and colourful pictures throughout kept her interested and focused on the task. Quite honestly I didn’t have to ask her to get on Skwirk she was asking me. As all the activities are targeted at her age group I really don’t think she realised that she was learning while ‘playing’ on the computer. Also, I could jump on after her and check her progress. Skwirk was wonderful and I think it has been invaluable help for my daughter.

I was lucky enough to be given the chance to review the Skwirk system with my daughter who is currently in Year 4 at school.

Once we accessed the site with our login details we were happy to find a huge choice of lessons to choose from in many subjects. My daughter loved being able to choose what she wanted to do when she wanted to do it. I found she spent a lot more time learning this way than conventionally with her set homework. The activities kept her amused and interested literally for over an hour, easily and without any coaching by me.

The lessons we tried were very easy to use and challenged her at every step, which she enjoyed. She felt liked she had achieved something at the end of each step and told her Dad all about what she had learnt when he got home that night.

I’d recommend this system to anyone who has school aged children whether their child is having trouble with learning or not. It is a great way for children to learn at their own pace and support their own learning at school.’

‘Year 10 is a bit beyond me at times so it was great to have Skwirk pick up my slack! While I didn’t hover over my son while he was on Skwirk I did get to go on at the end of the week and view his progress. While we were doing our Skwirk trial, I did notice that should my son not understand something he was studying he would head to Skwirk to get the extra help. My son just loved using Skwirk and even he said “it has been a great help to me mum.” I would consider Skwirk an investment in the son’s education. I was very impressed by this online schooling system.’

Well, what a rave review! I would have to agree; anything to help further education or teach children in a different way to what the school teacher has taught them is a great thing. All children are different and learn in different ways, so if your child cannot quite grasp something in the classroom maybe you should visit Skwirk, it might just be the help your child needs.

Parents grab a free trial by clicking here. Watch a video below to find out more about Skwirk.

Aussie Product Review is a free service for small Australian businesses. They review products and promote business’ on their website and social media outlets which have a collective following of many thousands!